Landing Performance Landing Performance

   In many cases, the landing distance of an airplane will define the runway requirements for flying operations. The minimum landing distance is obtained by landing at some minimum safe speed which allows sufficient margin above stall and provides satisfactory control and capability for a go-around. Generally, the landing speed is some fixed percentage of the stall speed or minimum control speed for the airplane in the landing configuration. As such, the landing will be accomplished at some particular value of lift coefficient and angle of attack. The exact values will depend on the airplane characteristics but, once defined, the values are independent of weight, altitude, wind, etc.

   To obtain minimum landing distance at the specified landing speed, the forces which act on the airplane must provide maximum deceleration during the landing roll. The various forces acting on the airplane during the landing roll may require various techniques to maintain landing deceleration at the peak value.

   A distinction should be made between the techniques for minimum landing distance and an ordinary landing roll with considerable excess runway available. Minimum landing distance will be obtained with the actual landing speed by creating a continuous peak deceleration of the airplane; that is, extensive use of the brakes for maximum deceleration. On the other hand, an ordinary landing roll with considerable excess runway may allow extensive use of aerodynamic drag to minimize wear and tear on the tires and brakes. If aerodynamic drag is sufficient to cause deceleration of the airplane, it can be used in deference to the brakes in the early stages of the landing roll; i.e., brakes and tires suffer from continuous hard use but airplane aerodynamic drag is free and does not wear out with use. The use of aerodynamic drag is applicable only for deceleration to 60 or 70 percent of the touchdown speed. At speeds less than 60 to 70 percent of the touchdown speed, aerodynamic drag is so slight as to be of little use, and braking must be utilized to produce continued deceleration of the airplane. Since the objective during the landing roll is to decelerate, the powerplant thrust should be the smallest possible positive value (or largest possible negative value in the case of thrust reversers).

   In addition to the important factors of proper technique, many other variables affect the landing performance of an airplane. Any item which alters the landing speed or deceleration rate during the landing roll will affect the landing distance.
   The effect of gross weight on landing distance is one of the principal items determining the landing distance of an airplane. One effect of an increased gross weight is that the airplane will require a greater speed to support the airplane at the landing angle of attack and lift coefficient.

   As an example, of the effect of a change in gross weight, a 21 percent increase in landing weight will require a 10 percent increase in landing speed to support the greater weight.

   When minimum landing distances are considered, braking friction forces predominate during the landing roll and, for the majority of airplane configuration, braking friction is the main source of deceleration.

   The minimum landing distance will vary in direct proportion to the gross weight. For example, a 10 percent increase in gross weight at landing would cause:

      (1) a 5 percent increase in landing velocity,
      (2) a 10 percent increase in landing distance.

   A contingency of this is the relationship between weight and braking friction force.

   The effect of wind on landing distance is large and deserves proper consideration when predicting landing distance. Since the airplane will land at a particular airspeed independent of the wind, the principal effect of wind on landing distance is due to the change in the groundspeed at which the airplane touches down. The effect of wind on deceleration during the landing is identical to the effect on acceleration during the takeoff.

   A headwind which is 10 percent of the landing airspeed will reduce the landing distance approximately 19 percent but a tailwind which is 10 percent of the landing speed will increase the landing distance approximately 21 percent. Figure 17-61 illustrates this general effect.

   The effect of pressure altitude and ambient temperature is to define density altitude and its effect on landing performance. An increase in density altitude will increase the landing speed but will not alter the net retarding force. Thus, the airplane at altitude will land at the same indicated airspeed - as at sea level but, because of the reduced density, the true airspeed (TAS) will be greater. Since the airplane lands at altitude with the same weight and dynamic pressure, the drag and braking friction throughout the landing roll have the same values as at sea level. As long as the condition is within the capability of the brakes, the net retarding force is unchanged and the deceleration is the same as with the landing at sea level. Since an increase in altitude does not alter deceleration, the effect of density altitude on landing distance would actually be due to the greater TAS (true airspeed).

   The minimum landing distance at 5,000 feet would be 16 percent greater than the minimum landing distance at sea level. The approximate increase in landing distance with altitude is approximately 3 1/2 percent for each 1,000 feet of altitude. Proper accounting of density altitude is necessary to accurately predict landing distance.

   The effect of proper landing speed is important when runway lengths and landing distances are critical. The landing speeds specified in the airplane's flight handbook are generally the minimum safe speeds at which the airplane can be landed. Any attempt to land at below the specified speed may mean that the airplane may stall, be difficult to control, or develop high rates of descent. On the other hand, an excessive speed at landing may improve the controllability slightly (especially in crosswinds), but will cause an undesirable increase in landing distance.

   Thus, a 10 percent excess landing speed would cause a 21 percent increase in landing distance. The excess speed places a greater working load on the brakes because of the additional kinetic energy to be dissipated. Also, the additional speed causes increased drag and lift in the normal ground attitude and the increased lift will reduce the normal force on the braking surfaces. The deceleration during this range of speed immediately after touchdown may suffer and it will be more likely that a tire can be blown out from braking at this point.

   The most critical conditions of landing performance are the result of some combination of high gross weight, high density altitude, and unfavorable wind. These conditions produce the greatest landing distance and provide critical levels of energy dissipation required of the brakes. In all cases, it is necessary to make an accurate prediction of minimum landing distance to compare with the available runway. A polished, professional landing technique is necessary because the landing phase of flight accounts for more pilot caused airplane accidents than any other single phase of flight.

   In the prediction of minimum landing distance from the handbook data, the following considerations must be given:

      (1) Pressure altitude and temperature - to define the effect of density altitude.
      (2) Gross weight - which defines the CAS or EAS for landing.
      (3) Wind - a large effect due to wind or wind component along the runway.
      (4) Runway slope and condition - relatively small correction for ordinary values of runway slope, but a significant effect of snow, ice, or soft ground.